LINDSBORG — It was only fitting that a special football game between Kansas Wesleyan and Bethany College would have a special ending Saturday night at Anderson Stadium.
The two arch-rivals were meeting for the 100th time and there probably haven’t been too many finishes like this one.
Wesleyan was able to knock down Darby House’s pass intended for 6-7 Haydon Parks on the game’s final play, as it held on for a 33-31 victory before a full house.
Wesleyan is now 3-0 in the KCAC and a half-game up on 2-0 Friends and Tabor. The Coyotes have proven to be the masters of the close game, as they have won two KCAC games by three points and now this one by two.
Bethany’s KCAC title hopes took a jolt, as it is now 1-2, 2-2 overall.
The Coyotes took a 14-3 lead into the halftime break, as Trey Dallas threw a pair of TD passes, one to Joe Vela and the other to Zach McClain. Bethany could manage only a 26-yard Kevin Retchless field goal that opened the game’s scoring.
But the defenses simply were overwhelmed by the offenses in the second half, as the Swedes scored four touchdowns, while Wesleyan had two touchdowns and two field goals, the last a 35-yarder by Terry Stecker that came with 1:13 left in the game that enabled Wesleyan to overcome a 31-30 lead. Bethany rammed its way down the field on its final series, but a couple of penalties took it out of field goal range and House’s heave to the end zone proved futile.
“Exciting game, I mean gosh, that’s one for the ages I’ll tell you,” a disappointed Bethany coach Jamie Cruce said. “Disappointed that we didn’t give ourselves a chance (at a field goal) at the end. It stinks to lose that game, but super proud of our effort. We came together and took the lead late and our composure for the most part was spectacular. It was a great game, hats off to Kansas Wesleyan.”
Wesleyan was up 27-16 when the Swedes’ Tevis Linnebur scored with 12:26 left and House hit Parks for a deuce to make it 27-24. Wesleyan came right back with a 22-yard Stecker field goal for a 30-24 lead, but Bethany took its first lead of the night with 5:21 to go on a 6-yard House-to-Parks connection.
The offenses combined for nearly 1,000 yards, with Bethany accumulating 512. House, who completed 26 of 55, threw for 322 yards and two scores, while Linnebur rushed for 149 yards on 32 carries and two TDs. Preseason All-America candidate Brandon Martino, who had been quiet through three games, emerged with 10 catches for 136 yards and a score, while D’Andre Thompson had seven catches for 82 yards.
Page 2 of 2 - Wesleyan wasn’t far behind. It had 474 yards, with Brett Giesen rushing for 183 on 27 carries and one touchdown. Dallas threw for 223 yards and two scores.
Bethany is back home Saturday for a nonconference game against Avila. Kansas Wesleyan hosts Friends in a first-place battle.
Bethany Listed First
First Downs — 29, 22. Rushes-Yards — 38-190; 46-251. Passing — 26-55-1-322; 15-28-0-223. Punts-Avg. — 5-34.4.; 2-48.0. Fumbles-Lost — 0-0; 2-1. Penalties-Yards — 12-110; 4-32.
Bethany — Linnebur 32-149, House 4-20, Williams 1-12, Johnson 1-9.
KW — Giesen 27-183, Dallas 7-35, Turner 7-21, Myers 1-13, Stewart 2-5, Team 1-0; Stecker 1-(-6).
Bethany — House 26-55-1-322.
KW — Dallas 15-28-0-223.
Bethany — Martino 10-136, Thompson 7-82, Johnson 3-65, Parks 3-26, Franco 1-8, Wollenberg 1-5, Linnebur 1-0.
KW — Myers 5-43, McClain 4-118, Roberts 4-25, Vela 1-32, Giesen 1-4.